Maputo, 10 May (AIM) – Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) reported on Tuesday that the number of voters registered ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for 11 October has risen to 3,108,189.
This figure was achieved in the first 17 days of the voter registration, which runs from 20 April to 3 June. It is 31.33 per cent of the target figure.
The registration brigades are thus registering an average of 182,834 voters per day. At this rate, somewhat more than 8.2 million citizens will be registered – well short of the target of 9.9 million.
There are startling discrepancies between the provinces. The best result comes from the southern province of Gaza, traditionally a stronghold of the ruling Frelimo Party, which has reached almost 45 per cent of its target.
At the opposite end of the scale, the sparsely populated northern province of Niassa has only reached 22 per cent of its target. The most worrying figures come from the two most populous provinces, Nampula and Zambezia, neither of which has reached 30 per cent of the target.
The provincial breakdown of the registration so far is as follows:
Province Target Registered %
Maputo city 728,946 233.033 31.97%
Maputo province 1,283,336 395,686 30.83%
Gaza 517,020 232,000 44.87%
Inhambane 530.076 180,431 34.04%
Sofala 943,211 280,024 29.69%
Manica 732,063 279,747 38.21%
Tete 861,843 230,675 26.77%
Zambezia 1,429,873 403,609 28.23%
Nampula 1,474,465 429,293 29.12%
Cabo Delgado 740,538 294,777 39.81%
Niassa 680,254 148,914 21.89%
TOTAL 9,921,625 3,108,189 31.33%
The CNE spokesperson, Paulo Cuinica, speaking at a Maputo press conference on Tuesday, put a positive spin on these figures. Daily registration, he said, had risen from 180,911 in the first week to 182,045 in the second week. He thought this improvement was because registation brigade members were now showing better mastery of the computerized equipment.
Cuinica excused the illegal behavior of some brigade members who had printed voter cards clandestinely in the dead of night. This is known to have happened in three districts – Gurue, in Zambezia province, Chiure, in Cabo Delgado, and Ribaue, in Nampula.
Cuinica said that in five Gurue brigades, the printers were not working, and so the brigade members, used the printers of other brigades to print the voter cards in the Gurue warehouse of STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat).
He claimed the monitors of the political parties agreed with this procedure. Even if this were true, printing the cards outside of the registration posts is still illegal.
Cuinica said that, according to consultations made by the Zambezia Provincial Elections Commission, “there was no registration of voters, but just the printing of cards in the STAE warehouse”.
After the Gurue scandal, the STAE-central office issued a clear instruction that all registration operations (including the printing of voter cards) must take place at the official registration posts, and during the normal working hours for the registration brigades of 08.00 to 16.00.
Despite this order, illegal, nocturnal registration continued in Chiure and Ribaue. But the legal system is now reacting against these crime. The Ribaue district court issued an arrest warrant for the district director of STAE, Charles Joao Amade, and for two other STAE officials for their part in the clandestine printing of cards.
They were caught red-handed at about 21.00 on 6 May in a house belonging to the first secretary of Frelimo in the small town of Iapala, which is 40 kilometres outside Ribaue municipality. Nobody living in Iapala is entitled to vote for the Ribaue municipal assembly.